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Dahlia Basics

 

Dahlias are the super-flower of the plant world and will provide masses of blooms from mid-summer into fall

The amazing array of dahlia sizes, species, and colors make these a standard garden favorite. There are so many hybrids that it may be difficult to narrow your selection. You'll see plants that produce dinner-late sized blooms as well as those that are cactus-like or sport tiny pompons.

Dahlias like well-draining soil and sunshine. However, they should be protected from winds. As a perennial, they thrive best in zones 8-10, but will be fine from zones 4-10. Plant tubers about six inches deep and typically 2 feet apart. Use low-nitrogen fertilizer suitable for flowers. From the tubers, shoots will emerge in as little as two weeks. Do not water until the tubers have sprouted above ground.

Pest control is essential, especially for: slugs, aphids, earwigs, and cucumber beetles. Gopher activity may also be a problem. Dahlias, however, are not palatable to deer. For zones 4-8, the tubers should be removed and protected from frost. Let them dry out in a sunny spot, then pack them facing down in a sand and peat mix. Inspect occasionally for excessive dryness or rotting. The rot should be cut away.

Large dahlias will need to be staked. Medium and small dahlias can be grown in containers and on windowsills. Cut fresh blooms early in the morning for displays. Spent flowers should be removed to encourage new growth.

Here's a short list of dahlia varieties

Dinner-plate Dahlias
Barbarossa - Deepest red large blooms that flower into late fall.
Otto's Thrill - huge salmon blooms.
Kelvin Floodlight - award-winning brilliant sunshine-yellow blooms.

Medium Dahlias
Chianti - medium blooms that are pale yellow tinged with a touch of apricot.
Striped Duet - 6" blooms with a distinctive
Mistery Day - Striking crimson and white-tipped flowers.
Klondike - spiky white petals will make the perfect complement to big, bold blooms.

Container Dahliahs
Pomons - these fun little balls of color come in a range of hues.
Topmix - These tiny blooms will look like a field of multi-colored daisies.
Mignon - pinwheel petals - available in a range of colors.

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